Perfectly Imperfect

15977454_10154554872702284_5135947803223755301_nPatti Krank: What a blessing she is to me.  I’ve seen her once in person, feed her once at my home, heard her story in person once and intend on visiting her at her home at least once.  But I know that God brought us together forever friends.  Those around her are truly blessed by her love for her Lord, her humbleness and open brokenness. She walks daily open to His leading and willing to speak frankly about life.  I have been blessed by her and I know you will be too.

Look at all the smiling faces, lined up in wooden pews.  And there she sits among them, safe in her obscurity. 

1She’s learned well, that love is most easily lavished upon those who look good, who are successful, who are positive and happy, who follow the rules.  And so, she plays the role. 

But God sees her brokenness.  He knows her deep desire for love and acceptance.  But happiness comes through relationship, and real relationship means being honest and willing to share our real selves.  Our perfectly imperfect selves.

Early in childhood I was stricken with an infirmity called perfectionism.  Whether it was passed down from my carrier parents, fostered by the do’s and don’ts teachings of my church, or simply my own bent toward seeing things in black and white, who knows?  Maybe all three played a part in my striving to live up to my family nickname, Perfect Patti.

The youngest child, quiet and sweet-natured, no one could foresee anything but good from me.  I tried to live up to their expectations.  After accepting Jesus, around the age of 7 or so, I tried hard to do things right. But, even as a child, I never felt like my good was good enough.  My relationship with Jesus was more about what a Christian should do than it was about intimate friendship.

All of us are created for and by God, and all of us have within us a deep need for relationship.  My own little girl heart was hungry for love and acceptance.  When the teen years came I realized that the shy girl within me was able to come out of her shell and could make the cool kids laugh when she drank a little.  She was regarded as “far out” by another crowd when they learned that she would sample their offerings of contraband.  She also learned that she could finally receive the “love” she longed for when she gave herself away.  And so she did.  Body, soul, and spirit.  Trouble was,[bctt tweet=” The love I chased after never seemed to last and ultimately left me feeling rejected and alone.” username=””]

Even in the midst of my most rebellious days God never ceased His pursuit of me and He stayed by my side me in every dark place I journeyed.  As the downward spiral continued, my shame grew and my self value plummeted.  These feelings are what caused my wildest days to be short-lived, and as a young adult I returned to church and dutiful service to God.

Service mind you, not relationship.

I was happy to be back in church because I liked living in the light much better than in darkness, and being in church made me feel better inside, except for . . . the shame that lingered.
Not enough!

Less than!




These were some of the names that screamed inside my head.  Names that my enemy, the devil, made sure I heard loud and clear.  He does that you know.  When we try to get right with God he comes immediately to discount our positional freedom in Christ, and he makes every attempt to derail us from the purpose God has for our lives.

2I worked hard to make up for my past but there was no joy in the striving.  I dutifully said, “Yes,” to every request made of me, especially by the Pastor, whose approval I desired.  But my service became burdensome.  Where was the freedom the Bible talked about?  Where was the joy of the Lord?

Then came another time of falling away.  My personal life was shaken by divorce.  My church life was ripped in shreds when I was dis-fellowshipped.  Wounded, I walked away from church for many years.  I didn’t act out in rebellion the way I had as a teen and young adult, but I was very angry at the church, and hurt beyond words.

When I married to my current husband, I forgot my pain for awhile in the euphoria of new love.  Until real life returned and the bliss waned.  Over the years came more of the hard things of life (because life can be quite nasty you know).  It was a desperate need for God that led my husband and myself to finally return to church.  Of course I knew that God wasn’t to be found in a church building, but I also knew that following Jesus was harder without other believers and without good Bible teaching.
You’d think this would be the end of my struggle yet still . . . I felt “different” from everyone else in church.  With eyes deceived by lies, I looked around and saw all the “beautiful people” and knew that I was not one of them.

This was my thinking process:  I believed that church people would accept a total sinner off the street who’d sinned wildly before being saved, because they didn’t know any better.  But me?  I was a deliberate sinner.  A church girl gone bad.  I was certain that if people knew the sins I’d committed they wouldn’t like me.  So I held on to my secrets, and vowed to never tell a soul.

Except for God.  Though I might’ve wished God wasn’t all knowing so I could get away without confessing, I was raised in church and I knew His attributes.  In rededicating my life to Jesus I confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness, and accepted His freely given grace toward me.

However, grace and forgiveness of self was not so forthcoming.

Looking back I realize that I must have thought I was pretty special, not to accept that Jesus’ precious blood was enough to cover my deepest, darkest sins!   Did I really believe that God’s own Son was enough for others but not for me?

But oh, the shame!  How does a church girl fall so far when she knew better all along?  In my times of falling away I had God’s Spirit was constantly convicting me of right and wrong, and yet . . . I deliberately chose sin.

Over time, the spirit of shame I carried sought to destroy me.  I’d broken every single one of God’s commandments, including murder.  This, to me, was the worst.  My internal pain grew deeper and deeper, until I myself wanted to die.  A spirit of death hung over me because of an abortion I’d had at the age of 17.

Then came the time when my burden was too great to bear any longer and, at my husband’s insistence, I sought the help I needed.  At the end of myself, I admitted that my way of coping with my past wasn’t working, and I finally turned everything over to God.  That began my healing journey (one that I am still on by the way, because it is a life-long process) and the beginning of freedom.

[bctt tweet=”Freedom isn’t found in dark and hidden places. Freedom is found when we step into the Light.” username=””]

I tell the story over and over of how my confession to God brought forgiveness of sins (I John 1:9), but it was my confession to others that really initiated the healing (James 5:16).  It was so good to come clean and find love and acceptance from my “beautiful” brothers and sisters (Proverbs 28:13).  They liked me.  They really liked me . . . just as I was.

Authenticity.  Becoming honest about my past saved me and, to my surprise, has given me the opportunity to not only share my story, but also hear from others about their own deeply held secrets.  Who knew that God would one day use my pain for the good of others?
3God has a purpose for each of us before we are even a gleam in our earthly father’s eyes.  The enemy also has a purpose – to steal, kill, and destroy.  His plan is to shipwreck our faith and to separate us from our full destiny in Christ Jesus.

Since it is my purpose to encourage others in their faith and freedom, I can’t help but end my testimony without asking you if you are one of those people sitting in the pews pretending?  All of us have brokenness when we come to Christ.  Some have an immediate sense of freedom when they are saved.  But many in church are still walking in brokenness like I was.

It can be hard and embarrassing to face the things that cause us pain, but it is more painful, in the end, to keep them buried.  When we allow God to go to the root of the pain He promises to heal, set free, and deliver us . . . and there is nothing better than walking in the fullness of His Spirit and in power.  Please don’t let fear keep you from fulfilling His glorious purpose for YOU.

Blessings dear ones,

Perfectly Imperfect Patti

In case you’re interested you can read more about my Abortion Story here.  Or The Day the Church Asked for my Forgiveness here.  Or all about Forgiving Yourself here.  Or you can see a short Vimeo of Our (hubby’s and my) Story here. 😉


We have beauty in imperfection.  Amen!





Life on the Edge

29901Janet Townsend: My Friend!  She is a blessing.  She is gentle yet strong.  She amazes me with her knowledge of the word and is not fearful to share it.  I’ve seen her struggle more than once and I’ve seen her pick herself up and dust herself off.  People have tried to break her but she is unbreakable because she knows where her strength comes from. She trusts in her Lord with all her might and all her strength.

Whenever I hear the Stevie Nicks’ song Edge of Seventeen, I still crank up my radio and sign right along with it just like the white winged dove, signs a song sounds likes she’s signing.  Oh that song takes be back to being 17 again, a time when I had my life ahead of me.  I would ask myself, what would I be when I grew older?  Who would I marry? How many children would I be blessed with?  Would I be rich? Would I be happy? Would I travel the world or stay close to home?  Endless possibilities and nothing to hold me back.  One question I did not have to ask myself, would God be a part of my life?

As a young child, my parents would take my brother and me to church.  We didn’t attend regularly, but I embraced the lessons I learned in Sunday School about how much Jesus loved me and that I was a child of a King.  I truly felt the presence of God in my life and never really questioned His love for me even at a young age.  When I was seven years old, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Rheumatic Fever.  It took several months before the doctors were able to diagnose my condition correctly and begin an effective treatment.  I was in and out of the hospital so many times that all the nurses knew me by name and would recognize me immediately when I was admitted in the hospital.  I could see the look of sadness on their faces when they rolled me into hospital room yet again.  I had so many intravenous injections in my hips, they had to start giving them to me in my legs.  I was in constant pain and it didn’t seem like my tears would ever stop flowing.  I watched the worried looks on my parents faces when nothing that the doctors prescribed would help.  I remember the agony of not being able to walk due to my joints being so stiff and swollen, my parents would have to carry me from my bed to the bathroom where I would soak in a hot bath just to get some relief.  The pastor, lay members, and my sweet, sweet Sunday School teacher from the church we attended occasionally – Church of the Nazarene – visited the hospital and our home to pray with me.  Everyone knew that I was truly sick and wasn’t quite certain what to do about it.  But even during the midst of my pain and illness, I felt God’s presence and I knew I was in His hands.

My medical experience as a child helped me to appreciate Matthew 18:4 (NLT).  So anyone who becomes as humble as the little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  I have always tried to live a life of true humility even at a young age.  As I grew older, we did begin attending church on a consistent basis.  At 12 years of age, I was baptized in a creek next to a river bank.  I  still remember that day as if it were yesterday – the water was so cold and the sun was warm.  My family was there and my mother was so happy.  What a joyful time for me.  It was a reaffirmation that God was still present and real in my life.

As I grew older, I drifted away from the church.  In my mid-twenties, after a short lived marriage, I felt the desire to get back into the church and a life of service.  I started working at a small Methodist Church and then went on to work for a larger Methodist Church and a Christian College.  While working at the larger church, I met an associate pastor.  Three years later we were married.   He had two pre-teen children, so I instantly became a mother and a pastor’s wife.   One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future.  I felt that this was God’s direction in my life and I was living out His purpose.  Our ministry required us to move every three to four years.  It was becoming increasingly hard for me to stay close to God and I was losing the sense that I was living in His purpose.  I am certain that sounds surprising, but true, especially being part of a ministry team with my husband.  The place where you think you could easily find God, the church, I could not find Him there.  My life became consumed with church meetings, women’s Bible studies, raising two children, working a full time job to help make ends meet, and endless demands from the church.  It became too much and my desire for humility was replaced with anger and disappointment.  Unfortunately, I turned from God and turned to alcohol.  The child like faith that I once embraced was gone.  I struggled with my addiction for about ten years.  Finally I conceded I needed help. After many years of feeling abandoned by God, I found him in the most surprising place – AA.  Just like the day of my baptism, I could feel the warmth of God’s presence in my life again.  Even my child like faith returned and because what God had done for me, I was once again embracing a desire for a humble spirit.

A few years later I was faced with another personal heartbreak.  After close to 25 years of marriage, my husband essentially invited me to leave our marriage informing me he was no longer happy and felt I would be happier returning to Kentucky to be closer to my family, we were living in Destin, Florida at that time.   I accepted his invitation and packed up everything that I could get into my car and returned to Kentucky.  Although this pain was different than what I experienced as a child, the tears flowed with the same intensity nonetheless.  Instead of getting angry, I tried everything within me to remain humble and keep my childlike faith.  1 Peter 5: 6 & 7 NLT says So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.  Give all of your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.  God brought me through some dark, dark days.  And He took care of me; every need –  physical, emotional, and especially spiritual He met with great swiftness and clarity.  I knew I was in His hands and He would see me through.

As the days go by like a strand in the wind is the web that is my own, I begin again as the song goes.  I am now on the edge of 56.  My friends have told me that turning 56 is much harder than turning 55.  You are now closer to 60 than to 50 they say.  Most of the questions I asked myself when I was 17 have been answered.  Yes, I would get married, but divorce after 25 years.  I have no biological children but helped raise two step children like they were my own as well as being the best grandmother I could to three beautiful grandchildren.  I am certainly not rich monetarily, but definitely happy.   I have had the privilege to travel domestically and internationally.    The question that remains what will I be? I find myself moving in a different direction professionally.  No longer being part of a ministry team or parenting team, I am now asking myself what will I do with my life?  I have decided to embark on a Master’s Degree in Ethical Leadership.  My heart is leading me to focus on women in leadership and how women relate to one another in the workplace.  After years of working professionally in Human Resources and seeing the struggles, and enduring a few of my own, that women have in the workplace, I believe God is calling me to use my gifts, skills, and now my education to make a difference for women who are coming behind me that need a voice.  With God’s help, I want to be that voice.  I must be honest, I am so scared striking out in a new direction especially during this phase of my life.  Most people tell me to play it safe, get that job that will sustain you and live a quiet, comfortable life until you retire and then just have fun.  I don’t believe God brought me through a life threatening illness as a child, alcohol addiction and recovery, a painful divorce, and professional disappointments to play it safe.  He is calling me to do something more, something bigger with my life.  Throughout the Bible, God uses His people at every phase of life:  David as a child then Israel’s anointed King as an adult, Sarah’s birth of Isaac at a later age, and Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt at 80 years old.  Now, I believe that God is using me to live out His purpose, the building up and empowerment of women.

Let me end by saying, as much as I enjoy listening to the songs of my youth and getting that rush of nostalgia, it has always been scripture, prayer and my daily quiet time with the Lord that sustains me.  As I start this new phase of my life I ask for your prayers.  Pray that I don’t grow weary and can stay the course that God has put me on.  God has put a new song in my heart, the lyrics have yet to be written, and the melody is a small note in my mind, but I am confident this song will blare for God as He walks with me as I live my life on the edge for His glory.

Thank you Lord for placing women like Janet in my life.  Amen!



Pain to Victory

TeresaTeresa Martin:  I understand her drive! Some are born with a driven personality and some are “gifted” it through trials. When you face the hard and push through it, learning all the while what God has in store.  Taking it and growing in compassion for other women.  That’s Teresa!  I’ve only known her for a short while but thrilled that the Lord has blessed me with another “gifted”driven woman in my life.  Can’t wait to see what God has in store for us as a team.




I always knew there was a God but I did not know him.  At age 34 I had not read or studied the bible.  I only knew what others said about God and I didn’t hang around people who followed his ways.  When my childhood sweetheart and husband of 19 years had yet another affair and I knew divorce was the choice I had to make, I became a follower of Jesus, not just a person who believed he existed.  I started to pray through my pain and go to church and then eventually attended a bible study.  I watched people who worshiped unashamed and I longed for a relationship with God like that.  As my life, as I knew it, crumbled before me, I began seeking to know God and understand who he says I am and how much he loves me and my life was forever changed.  I committed my whole heart and surrendered my plans for my life to His plans for me.

In John 10:27 Jesus says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

We can mature in grace and live the Christian life through a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. If we fully respond and are serious about this relationship with Jesus, then we are his disciples. Discipleship is the process of becoming the whole person God calls each of us to be through our relationship with Jesus Christ.  A disciple embraces God’s highest purpose for his or her life – to grow in the likeness of Christ for the sake of others.  Upon the advice of the Christian counselor I was seeing after my divorce, I went to see the minister of a large church in Lexington to talk about divorce.  He listened to my story and told me I was a minister because I could minister to those going through divorce.  He said his church had 8000 ministers because everyone who attended thee had their own ministry from their life’s story.  You do not have to be a clergy-person to be a minister.  Ministry is helping people become the whole persons God calls them to be in Jesus Christ.  Jesus called common fishermen to become the greatest kind of fishermen they could be- fishers of people.  God uses the pain of my divorce for me to serve others who are suffering in the same way.  I experienced the pain of divorce ending a 19 year marriage.  I could not have survived the pain without Jesus.  We lived on a farm and I was the one to leave because I knew I couldn’t take car of it.  My son, my only child, chose to stay at the farm.  I lost all of what I knew at the time to be mine at that moment, my home , my son and my husband.  My husband had been my best friend for 19 years and was my high school sweet heart.  My mom has an entry in my baby book from kindergarten “Teresa has her first boyfriend” and it was the boy I married in 197.  In Isaiah 61:1, we read, “He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted” and in chapter 61:2, “to comfort all who mourn”.  The Lord showed me that he was all I could truly call mine.  The Lord does not waist a hurt and has put in my path women going through divorce so I could share the generosity I have experienced from God.  I had been in bible study a couple of years when I was asked to lead a small discussion group.  I did not feel adequate , however the leader told me if I did I wouldn’t need Jesus!  I lead that group through several studies and saw God work in amazing ways.  Then the leader’s husband was called to ministry in another state.  She asked us to pray about who would take the leadership position of this large group of women.  As I prayed I heard  in my spirit the words “feed my sheep”.  I felt myself saying I can’t do that Lord.  Again I heard a still small voice saying, “you can do all things through Christ”.  I  was driving at the time so I sat down with my bible when I got  home knowing that if I heard from God it would be through His word.  I found both of those in scripture and other women on the prayer team confirmed they felt God was calling me to lead the group.  I was 34 years old before I accepted Christ as my Savior and as I surrendered to His will He called me to disciple other women.  I have been remarried 16 years and life can still be challenging and painful. I am thankful for God’s word that sustains and fulfills me.

We read about two kinds of persons in the Gospels:

  1. The crowds- the thousands of persons who sought out Jesus.  They were hungry and wanted to be healed.  But most were curious, not committed.  They were more FANS than FOLLOWERS.
  2. The disciples- those few who heard the call to follow, committed their lives to Him and put their faith into action.

The same two types of persons exist in today’s church.  Each of us must decide which we will be.  Will we stop short of fully responding to God’s grace and Call?  Or will we gratefully and wholeheartedly respond by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ?

Lord Thank You for giving me women like Teresa to share life with.  I praise You for know exactly what we need.  Please help us hear you clearly! Amen!




Didn’t Win the Lottery

Joy Planck:  Joy………..what can I say about Joy?  She puts a smile on my face every time I see her.  She is simply a …!  And what is fantastic about it is that if life is running smoothly, she is a joy and if life is finding it’s trials, she is a joy.  Doesn’t matter what life 10898013_724273937691181_3215757218075290447_nis throwing at her, she knows who to turn to and that’s Christ.  I’ve seen her grow in His love and it’s been beautiful. Now does she still struggle with those demons that want to roam around in her head, YES, but she is a fighter!  I’m so thrilled that God gave me the privilege to call her “friend”.

My life as a follower of Jesus began because of my need for acceptance.  But more than wanting myself to be part of the “in” crowd, I wanted my daughter to be a part of it.

I was not a “good girl”.  I grew up in a family where parents were divorced, relationships were not healthy and kids knew themselves to be little more than burdensome.  My life reflected my upbringing and I was a kid who lied and contrived and became a girl who drank and partied a little and slept around…a lot.  I had not one ounce of respect for self and, at the same time believed in nothing by my own needs, wants and feelings.

So when, at the age of 26 I found myself married for the second time with two little girls, one 4 and the other just a year old, I began searching…hard.  I wanted something better for my kids than the haughty looks “nice” folks had given to me.  If you’re anything like me you know the people I mean and the looks I’m talking about. I never wanted my kids to feel like they weren’t good enough – even when they hadn’t done anything wrong but be born.

I realized one of the common things about all the kids who were accepted  was that they all went to the big Christian Church in town on the corner.acceptance

Around that time I got a promotion at work.  I went out to the warehouse to work on the filing system and try to help and bring some order to the place but I certainly got far more than I bargained for!  When I began my tenure I was a smoking, cursing, debacle of a person.  I gossiped and complained and groused full time.  I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for that group of Christian men to endure those first few months working alongside me.  But as time wore on, I wore down and their little mentions of church or God or their tame weekends spent with their loving families got me asking questions. There was another member of our break room friend group who worked in another department and just so happened to be a youth pastor at a local church.  Needless to say, he was all too eager to answer any questions I had about God and church.

I finally got up the nerve, with much urging from my new friends, to walk through those big wooden doors at the big church on the corner in town!  I did it!  And nobody threw me back out the door!  They accepted me with open arms in spite of the fact that it was a small town and most of them knew who my parents were.  I was so excited.   I read my Bible and went to Sunday school and took my older daughter.  The little one was a handful and her daddy would not go to church with me, so I left her home with him.  I didn’t figure it was too big a deal since she really wouldn’t know what was going on anyway.

When I came to work one day and said that I’d had a discussion with the pastor and planned to be baptized they were thrilled.  The youth pastor’s first question was, “Did he pray with you?”  I looked at him, exasperated, and said, “No.  Why?”  YP’s reply was simple, you need to get saved.  I told him I didn’t know what that even meant and said, “Tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it now!”  So I prayed, in the break room, with my coworkers who’d led me so well along my journey joined in with me and I asked Jesus into my heart and it was perfect.  I spent the rest of that day walking on a cloud.  I finally belonged to the club!  But there were vulnerabilities in my young, Christian heart and as we know from I Peter 5:8, we must be sober, be vigilant; because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

I was saved and I was a Christian and Jesus was in my heart, but life was not perfect.  My life was lacking in many ways and the biggest was in my marriage.  My husband and I fought constantly.  My young daughter was caught in the middle and I didn’t know what to do about it.  I had never, in all my life witnessed a healthy, loving relationship and certainly did not know what to do to get one.  I talked to my friends, family and colleagues about my troubles and they were only too happy to sympathize with me as I dishonored my husband and flushed my marriage vows down the figurative toilet daily.

The sympathy I got from one, certain friend grew from empathy for my situation, into attraction and then more.  Before I realized what had happened, I was involved in a very inappropriate relationship and, although I knew it was wrong and that I wanted my marriage to survive for the sake of my baby girl, the attraction I felt to the life I wanted – with a Christian man – was so very strong.   He was so kind and good (I thought).  I failed to see the situation from his wife’s point of view!  I remember lying in bed and NOT praying for God to change my situation, because even in those early days of my walk with the Lord, I knew that, according to Matthew 17:20, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  I wanted to think that God was handing me the ready-made, easy, perfect life I’d always dreamed of.  But in my heart I knew better, simply because I was reading God’s word and so I knew the truth.  What I didn’t know from reading the Bible and my short experience with Christian living, I knew from the small, quiet whisperings of my savior.  I knew that Marriage is honorable among all (Heb 13:4) and that I had to preserve mine.

Finally, I could pray!  I prayed for God to take away my impure thoughts and He did just that.  And, after all these years, I’ve not been tempted in that way again.  I repented, admitted what I’d done to my husband and begged him for forgiveness.  I broke off the relationship with my friend and am beyond thankful to be able to say I ended the affair of the heart before it became more!  The Lord changed me during that time and I turned to my husband and away from the rest.  I learned to lean on God first and then my spouse and discovered so much I hadn’t realized.  I came to KNOW my man for the honest, strong and dependable leader I had always dreamed of being married to.

God has continued to bless me in my life since I began to follow him all those years ago.  I’ve moved, been promoted at work, seen my husband promoted and watched our kids grow into wonderful adults.  We’ve had our trials, to be sure.  My husband still does not attend church with me, but I am comforted and have peace, even in his absence.  My kids are not perfect and struggle with school and friends at times, but I have perfect peace and know that God is doing a good work in them.  My extended family struggles are daunting and run the gamut at times between alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, etc. but I am no longer plagued with jealousy, guilt and anxiety.

Many people say they are “blessed” and then go on to explain how they live a life of perfection.  It’s almost as if “blessing” equals winning the lottery.  I didn’t win the lottery when I came to know Jesus but He took me by the hand, He opened my eyes to the joy I didn’t know was available to me or even existed.  I didn’t win the lottery that day in the break room at work, but found a much better prize.  A prize worth more than money, or stature or reputation; I won the trophy of life – MY life.blessed  I took it out of this world and the hands of the devil and gave it over to the Only One who truly values it for what it’s worth! – Joy Planck

Lord, Thank you so much for friendship.  Thank you for the example of your Son on earth. The relationship with you is my guidance and value.  The relationship I have with those here on earth is my joy and care.   I so appreciate those you have set in my path. I pray Lord for those that don’t understand the need for relationships.  I pray for their loneliness and shame they carry with them daily.  I pray that they will let go and open up to a world with You in it.  Amen!


Sweet Aroma

Sherri McReynolds:  She is my rock!  My stable ground.  When I need a gentle word and a steady voice, she is the one I call.  God only placed her in my physical surrounding for short period of time but he placed her there at just the right time.  She has been my “hiding place” (literally) and my place to go for rest.  She has supported me during some pretty tough situations and never wavered in the trust she placed in God for our direction.  And now that she has been many miles away from me for a lot of years, I still can hear her sweet voice and feel her hugs.  I so look forward to the day when we can be in the same physical place again.  My friend forever!

30562“I’d like you to write a post for my website….The story of your life with God. Would you do it?”      “Oh my!”, was my response. It made my heart race at the thought! I had never sat down and put pen to paper about “my story”. Did I have one, I wondered? They say everyone has a story to tell, but others seem to have much more interesting stories than mine! Yet, here I sit in the quiet of an early Monday morning, strong coffee with just the right amount of cream and my Bible open. The view out my dining room window indicates fall is in full swing, and in many ways mirrors my life stage. I passed my 50th birthday this last summer along with a few more wrinkles, and gray hair masked by a bit of color.

The summer of 1966 was my grand entrance into this world. The last of five children, born in a small Texas Panhandle town, to a pretty, 28 year-old mother, and a 29 year-old handsome, young preacher. I’m told my mama had to sweet-talk my daddy into the last 3 children, and I’m so glad she did! My parents would gather us all into the living room every night for a devotional. Daddy would read scripture, we would sing “Abide with Me”, and then we would each take turns praying. God was becoming more real to me, even at that tender young age. Sundays were my favorite day of the week in that small Colorado town where we now lived. I vividly remember running into the bathroom where my mama was getting ready for church and excitedly asked her, “Do you know what my favorite day of the week is? Sunday!”.   I was too young yet to understand the gravity of the struggle in the world outside in the early 1970’s…bomb threats due to racial tension that sent my older brother and sister home from high school, inflation, Vietnam, etc. My world was secure, safe, and warm. I knew nothing of the impact of sin. But then I started Kindergarten. The sweet, little 5 year-old girl found herself wrapping her beloved doll in a blanket from the play area of the classroom and standing in line to go home. The teacher asked, “Is that your blanket, Sherri?”, to which I replied softly, “Yes”.  Stealing…lying…oh my! I knew it was wrong, but buried it in my young heart and kept it there. A year later, a friend named Missy, taught me how to smoke in the back alley of her house. I was a mature 1st grader, and she a 2nd grader. Why did it seem so easy to give in to temptation? Sin. I buried this guilt in my heart, too. These sins and others began to burden my heart so much, that I finally got the courage to ask my mom one Wednesday night after church, “Do you ever need to tell someone about your sins?” She took me privately into their bedroom, where I sat on the edge of the bed and confessed everything I could think of. She was so gentle, as always, and prayed with me, and hugged me as I cried. The heaviness finally lifted from my heart! Confession really is good for the soul!

When I was 11, I had a very strong conviction to be baptized. I was a private girl and hadn’t shared with my parents about the decision I had been wrestling with. But “something” took me out of that pew that Sunday morning, and my daddy baptized me into Christ. Oh, what a feeling! My sins had all been washed away! I will never forget that day. Never had I experienced that feeling of feeling so free, light and so joyful!

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8.  Wait. Who? Me? Yes, me. Many times in the course of Jr. High and High School I was in a spiritual battle. More lying here, a little deception there, and covering up, and burying deep.  I tried to hide from God. Shamefully, I ceased praying to Him and confessing my sin, allowing Satan to deceive me into thinking, “God isn’t listening to you!”.  But Satan is the father of lies, and makes it his mission to keep us believing those lies. But God has a way of getting our attention to call us back to Him.  He got my attention at that time by moving a young man to town when I was 16.  I’m convinced he was placed there, at that particular time, by God. He and his family only lived there for eight short months before his parents decided that cold, little part of Colorado was not for them and headed back north to Denver. We had only been dating one month before they moved, but that was enough time for God!  Matt needed Him, and little did I know that He would use me. Could God actually use me– broken, flawed, and at times living in out-right rebellion? Yes, He could and He did! God also knew that I needed to be called back to Him and used Matt to do that. It was not an immediate change for either one of us, but our relationship grew through the long distance, and after graduation I moved to Denver. We had many conversations about God, our past mistakes, and what we dreamed of for the future. He was baptized into Christ four months before we married in May of 1986. Matt and I learned to grow in Christ together as we began our married life, and had 2 beautiful children. These “children” are now nearly 27 and 24 years of age, and are my pride and joy! As they grew and were being shaped by God, He was shaping me right along with them.  I, by no means, have mothered them perfectly. So many mistakes have been made. But God is always reminding me of how far He has brought me, and that His grace is sufficient for me.15085547_10211140271962987_6575471649633036569_n

Our family has been through a lot of changes over the past 30 years. Job losses, moves, deaths, divorces within our families, etc.  With every one of these challenges, God has grown me more and more. He has put wonderful, godly women in my life at just the right time, along with families in the body of Christ to share joys with, as well as struggles, and to help carry one another’s burdens that living in this flesh can bring.

There is nothing more vital in this world than living a life of faith in Christ Jesus! Struggles come so that we can see God more clearly. Nothing can ever take the place of the treasure we have in Christ. Yes, even I, in this cracked jar of clay, have a treasure, “….to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from men”. 2 Cor. 4:7.

Through each season of the year, and of my life, may the LORD continually help keep my eyes on Him. No matter how much I mess up, He is faithful. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes on not what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18

Lord, You always have the best timing and know who we need to have.  Thank you for giving me Sherri.  Be with her as she ministers to those around her and help her know that she is a part of Your great story.  Amen





My Story is not Boring

Patty Raisor: Pure in Heart!  That is what I can say about Patty.  Which means she loves God and through that love she gives.  Gives in many ways to her neighbors in America and to her neighbors across the seas.  She feels BIG, big for joys and big for sorrows.  A person will never fails to feel loved when they are with her.  I have been blessed by her presence in my life.

1780066_10203010322633219_2085411338782936671_oThere is no such thing as a boring story with God.  I use to think my testimony was boring – I grew up in a Christian home, was in church all my life, had every opportunity to know God, did all the “Christian things,” but realized in High School that I had a religion and not a relationship.  It was at a youth camp that I realized I was working to obtain and keep my salvation – it was all about me and what I did.  Once I could see the ugliness of my sin – my attitudes, actions, thoughts, words – I realized I needed to be rescued from myself.  It was at that camp I asked Jesus to be in charge of my life, to save me from myself, to forgive me of my past and be my forever friend.

What is not boring about my story is that God had been pursuing me all my life – He gave me my family, He gave me a Christian upbringing, He protected me from myself and He has continued to hold me tight.

My salvation was secure, but I had not truly made Him Lord over my life which was evident during my college days.  I went my own way and lived a life that made me look like the world around me.  I rarely went to church, I never read the Bible, I prayed when I needed something and I was surrounded by non Christian friends.  My life definitely was not boring – but it was also not fulfilling.  I was running from God thinking I was in charge of my life.  BORING.jpg

Things began to change when I met my future husband.  We had so much in common – we were both Christians, we had very similar home life and interests and he too had been running from God.  We both had the desire to make our marriage God centered which meant getting serious about our relationship with Him.  It was then I committed to making Him Lord of my life.

I began attending Bible studies where I discovered for myself the truth about God, His character, the way He operated and what He desired for my life.  I began to grow in my relationship with Jesus as I applied what I was learning.  God began preparing me to serve Him in my home, the church and in para-church organizations.  Each ministry He placed me in was a training ground for the next assignment He had for me.  My husband and I loved serving God together and He gave us many opportunities which ultimately prepared us for His call to China.  For 2 years we taught English to college students with the main goal of sharing God’s love and showing Jesus to our students.

Why is my story not boring?  Because God’s grace is never boring.  He plucked me out of my self-centered life, He cleaned me up, He held tightly to me when I went my own way, He hand picked my spouse and has kept us together, He trained me for parenting and ministry outside of the home, He enables me to serve Him and He loves me unconditionally.  What a miracle!!


Lord, Yes what a miracle.  The miracle of Your Son.  The miracle of the love that You show us. I’m grateful for Patti and I pray for the paths that cross her, that they will be blessed by the gifts You have given her. Amen!



A Journey Home

Sherrie Rison:  Sherrie………what can I say about her except that her smile is contagious! The sweet spirit that she carries so gracefully is one that those around her are blessed by. She is willing to show weakness but admits that her determination can sometimes hold her back from being vulnerable.   I’ve only been blessed by her presence in my life for a couple of years.  I’ve seen her walk through some pretty tough issues and wonder what God is trying to teach her.   I’m also getting to be with her during a time of blessings and joy.  All I know for sure is that God always knows what he is doing and through all of Sherrie’s life, He has been weaving a unbelievably beauuuuuuuu-tiful story.  I’m grateful that I am a part of it with her.

Jeremiah 1:5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”


It is important for me to remember this; as my life has wound through seasons and years, people have come and go, but this verse, this truth remains the same. Thank you for letting me share how God has always been with me.

  As an infant my environment did not reflect a loving household. 1985, My first year I moved from Nashville, TN with my mother, father and two biological brothers to Huston, TX with my father, aunt and brothers to Mt. Sterling, KY with house parents and my brothers at Hope Hill Children’s Home and finally Winchester, KY with my first official foster parents, without my brothers. They were a nice family. I have three older brothers and an older sister.

When I was 5, 1990, my father decided to reclaim my brothers and me from foster care. A day came when everyone’s face was sad and hearts heavy, too young for me to understand. I relocated to the next town over, Lexington, KY. My room was in the basement with my brothers down the hall. I cried myself to sleep and spent years trying to figure out what happened, what was still happening.

I staggered through the effects of alcohol and drugs in my new home. As my school years continued I settled in to feeling very lonely and outcast, almost hidden. My interest peaked in Wiccan and pagan practices. (Not necessarily dark, just something greater) I started making some friends in the neighborhood smoking cigarettes, pot and drinking. My oldest brother came out he was gay. His lifestyle had an impact on my introduction to rave parties, acid, ecstasy and mushrooms. All of these things I was reaching out for, trying to reach and understanding of “feel good” or love, left me empty at the end of every day.

My sophomore year 2001, there was a teacher who invested in me like no one before. Spending time after or in-between classes. She invited me to church and led me to a relationship with Jesus. I was so reluctant but I was told John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. The opportunity to be truly loved in a way that would never ever go away. Romans 8:38  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I was fully aware of the loneliness in life and the deep need for Love. A simple prayer between me and God, asking for forgiveness, acknowledging I needed/wanted Him/love in my life and I asked Jesus to make His home in my heart, to lead my life. (March 9, 2001) There was a still, small moment that I could feel God call to me. With the smallest amount of faith I prayed for the first time. “God if you’re there…” Something happened in that moment. I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. My heart felt like butterflies. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. The feeling lasted days even weeks and it couldn’t have come a better time. While I transitioned from my fathers to the shelter and the attic I knew I was loved and felt like I was loved. Nothing in this world had ever given me that before, Jesus was/ is different. Life must go on, the bible says, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Just because I am a person of faith doesn’t exempt me from difficulties. Difficulties that give me the opportunity to choose what character I will create in myself.

After returning home from the retreat I carried Jesus’s love with me everywhere. He made me confident, worthy and I had a great hope. I was ready to meet my next level of faith. My father met mine and my brothers’ maximum limit of tolerance for his abuse a month after my retreat. He was charged with neglect and we were placed back in states care with nowhere to go. Trying to place a 15 and 16 year old in the foster care program was a difficult task so we stayed in an emergency shelter for months and eventually were relocated again to an attic belonging to a man who previously sat on the board of the foster program. He was an extreme activist with no shower, stove or washer and dryer. There was no food in the house and if we went to school, we caught the city bus.

God introduced me to a family through the church that were foster parents. Job 29:12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. I was so distracted by wanting out of states care and being tossed around I did not see the love right in front of me. I had a mother and father, 6 new sisters and 3 new brothers. The pain, resentment, anger and entitlement had me in bondage. All I could see was what I thought was the finish line, my 18th birthday. I managed to make up my grades and graduate high school. By graduation I was already moving my things to a friend’s house.

I let loose of the focus I had and put aside the truths I had found. Somehow forgetting, taking for granted the freedom, peace, and love I had found in my relationship and conversations with Jesus. I wanted to do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I was pregnant the summer after graduation. My actions lead to guilt and shame. It was hard to strike a conversation with God. Even though I was scared and felt very alone again Jesus made, what I knew as, His first great promise to me; “You and this baby will be okay.” Almost an audible voice, the room seemed to clear of everything but this warm radiant light and I was again filled with strength and hope. My last ultra sound confirmed it. The doctors said March 22 and my heart knew March 9, 2004, exactly four years after I asked Jesus to lead my life. Sure enough I was held over in labor until March 9. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. This undeserving grace and gift was enough to humble my heart again. I felt the deep need for God in my life as my sons father went to prison I was left with the responsibility/ privilege. I stayed involved at the church, started college and worked full time in addition to being mom. I was blessed with peace and my son. I watched God touch others through how he was changing me, even witnessed my closest friends who came to know Jesus too and was able to pray with them to receive His love for the first time.

It was a few years later, that I was tempted by my old habits, hearing lies that I really wasn’t any different and that I could go back to those good ol party days instead of pretending I was this tied up person with a bow on top. I let go again and this time for 5 years. Dating many men, living in domestic violence, DVO’s, jail time, married, and divorced with three abortions, there was so much confusion I did not even want to begin to processing through it. Not until I was sitting at the Salvation Army with my two boys, driven to my knees with a deep need for Love. 1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

I started to realized just how bad things had gotten. I managed to save for our own apartment as I finished my AA degree. I was lonely, sledging through the days just trying to keep food in our bellies. I think I started to understand and learn this lesson. God dignifies us with free will, the power to make decisions of our own rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do. He wants us all as His own children but will not force or hold back any consequences. Even in the not so great choices He will still make good come of it, giving me strength and renewed hope. My faith in Jesus’s promise to never leave was becoming concrete.

After graduation, naturally I felt the need to start something new. I was feeling accomplished and determined to keep moving forward. I slowed my decision making and thought about how to start rebuilding. God needed to be the center and foundation for this restoration to be successful. I started small conversations and prayers. I was filled with a new hope, for my family to be put back together, healing to come to my biological family and reconciliation with my other past families. My second sons’ father and I agreed on forgiveness and started making plans to move out of the state, away from the labels we were living under. A new fresh start. This was going to be another very long journey. I was confident God was the engineer and paving the way. We had a large yard sale and headed out west. God carried the vehicle to the other side of the nation without a hiccup, to Huntington Beach, Ca.

First things first, my home and little family needed to be on the same playing field. God provided a home just a half a mile from the beach, a great connect to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and Celebrate Recovery, for all hurts, habits and hang ups and I enrolled at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian Liberal Arts College. Jesus began to soften both our hearts. As I prayed, God worked miracles and my boyfriend was baptized with my oldest son on June 29 of 2014. 2 Corinthians 5:17 this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! beautiful

Again a new season with new hearts and renewed spirits. Together we were filled with another new hope and wanted to go back home to face the past so we could share this love with our friends and family. I was in awe of the way God had moved in our lives bringing to light the desires of my heart. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

There has been a pruning process, healing broken places in our hearts, weeding out the things not needed for our future and restoring joy to our lives. It has been a difficult road since we have been back almost 2 years. In fact it reminds me a bit of the exorcist. It is not a pretty process but God promises; He gives beauty for ashes, Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.

I pray for the day when a great purpose will be revealed and I will be equipped for success, to glorify what God has done in me. So for now, I will be still, quiet, taking no action but to do what is in front of me and read the word, and pray. Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Lord, I am in awe of You and what You can and will do for us.  Thank you for giving me my friend.  Continue to guide her, making your love for her evident.  Amen


Past does not predict Future

Rachel Solomon:  Never under estimate the love that you can get from a “mom” that is not biological.  That is what she is to me!  Wisdom, a stern voice, a gentle hug and a nudge to look to God for the answers.  I’ve seen the happy times for Rachel, the scary times and the heart breaking times and through them all, I’ve seen  her seeking God.  One can never have too many people in their life to help keep them on track.  So grateful God put her in mine.


As I entered the world in 1939 as Rachel Ann Crews, I had no idea what my childhood  years would bring. About age four, I became aware of our family life, I heard shouting, arguments, and profanity as my mother and father embroiled in domestic problems that continued throughout my teen years. When the problems turned into spousal abuse, we would call the police. Although it seemed I held my breath for years anticipating what struggle might happen next, fortunately, the struggles were interrupted periodically with good times, and we could exhale our fears for a while. Although there was strife at home, we went to church every Sunday and smiled as if everything was wonderful. Although I felt a connection to God at church, God was not present in my childhood home.

In my younger years, church and school became my safe havens. I looked forward to school during the week and to church on Sunday because these were places where no one was fussing at me. During my school years I excelled in my classes, made friends, played sports and found a sense of belonging. During my church years I studied the Bible, made friends, found mentors and felt a sense of acceptance far beyond my expectations. I came to believe that Jesus, indeed, did love all the little children.

Although there was ongoing turmoil between our parents, both parents were usually at home. There were occasions when daddy would be gone with no explanation. I learned years later that his absences were to dodge bill collectors. I went to three schools in the 7th grade, again with no explanation; just before, it was due to failure to pay bills, especially the rent. By the eighth grade, our family situation stabilized somewhat, and we bought our first home. I was able to go to the same school until graduation. During my high school years, our family deteriorated to the point where my daddy picked up my younger sister from school and left town; my mother had no idea where they were, and we feared they were gone forever. Although she had her share in the domestic problems, mother took us to church and saw that we had food to eat and a place to live.

I became engaged in my senior year of high school, and following graduation, I married my high school sweetheart Talmadge Solomon–one of the best decisions I have ever made. We shared a common faith and always went to church together. During our first year of marriage my daddy died while hundreds of miles from us. My baby sister was returned home and the funeral for my daddy proceeded as if we were a normal family. I did not cry because I felt no loss. Years later, as my husband held me, I wept uncontrollably over all the things my daddy had missed, most of all, my graduation and my wedding.

Although we married as teenagers, we began immediately to build our Christian lives together. We were serious about life, and over the next ten years, we had two children, moved to a state far away, worked so my husband could complete seminary, and we began full-time ministry work in NC and VA in the late 1960’s.

We reared our two children in a stable, loving home, and we were surrounded by hundreds of Christians who valued our Kingdom-work. In the late 1980’s, at the age of 47, I started to college. Some of my friends said, “But, you’ll be 50 by the time you finish!” I told them I would be 50 anyway, so I might as well get the degree I had wanted all my life–another one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I graduated with high honors for my degree in Criminal Justice in 1989. My subsequent career and retirement with the NC Department of Crime Control and Public Safety made my mid-life and senior years challenging and rewarding. My husband continued in the ministry, and I continued to be involved in every area where I could serve at our Church. Because of our mutual love for God and our mutual love for each other, our connection to all things spiritual continues to be who we are.  I began writing an article, GRAY HAIR TALKING, for our church newsletter, which was well received. In a couple of years, I explored how to use my articles for videos on YouTube–another one of the best decisions I have ever made.

At the age of 70, with lots of help from my daughter and other experts, I entered the vast world of social media. My producer really did the whole “lights, camera, action” routine. In five years, we filmed 65 videos, had tens of thousands of hits, hundreds of subscribers, and responses from viewers in over 70 countries. The story of GRAY HAIR TALKING (GHT) entered another phase as I realized the value of this tool to share my faith.

At age 75, I discussed with my daughter a book based on the GHT videos. And at age 76, with my daughter’s expertise, we co-authored our first book of personal devotions, titled of course, GRAY HAIR TALKING, which became available in 2015 at Gray Hair Talking on Now, at age 77, we are writing our second book, which will have video-driven lessons for any type of class or small group setting based upon the actual GHT videos on YouTube. November 2016 is our projected release date.

Gray Hair Talking – click to open youtube

I hope the take-aways from this Solomon Saga will be encouraging to you. Your past does not have to predict your future. You can overcome whatever you do not want in your life. Get connected to positive people who can drown out the negativity from other people in your life. Identify your skills and use them for Kingdom-work. If you have a dream, and I believe we all have a dream, do something today that will put you one step closer to God and to that dream. Rachel Solomon

Lord, thank you for blessing me with Rachel.  Please be with her and continue to bless those around her. Amen





Patricia Coleman:  Compassionate & Determined, these are the words that I would use for Patricia.  My journey with Patricia is just starting.  I’ve seen her from a distance, followed her on FB and known that she was a force to be reckoned with.  She is driven with great passion for the hurting and yet still searching for her own pathway.  I’m so looking forward to the years that come for our future as friends.  And for what we can teach each other and what God will teach us.  It’s going to be fantastic, for sure I know that!


The story of my life with God….

I grew up in a family that admired God. We had the beautiful “Big Book” on the library shelf — The Holy Bible. I touched it most often when I would pull it out to have my brother lay his hand on it and solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth….so help him God.

My family attended the Presbyterian Church just a few doors down from my home and I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in the 3rd grade. I loved to pray as a child and often fell asleep talking to God. I was the youngest of five children. Although my family had some real struggles as they all do, I had great parents and a beautiful family, and I was definitely, Daddy’s Girl.

When I was in 8th grade, my precious father died of a massive heart attack, while he was taking a stress test. This forever changed the family and life I had known to that point. I can remember the shock and immediate denial and the denial that so much would change in my life and my family’s lives moving forward.

Not long after entering high school, I started making bad decisions. I was not thinking about my future, and my prayer life had died. I still believed in God, I even loved God, but I think the problem was that I did not understand His love for me and I did not have His Truth hidden in my heart.  The world had me, deception had me.

My bad decisions through my early teen years left me hurt and wounded. I felt my family was falling apart and we all seemed to be drifting away from each other. I was lost and thought I found missing love where it really did not exist.  I ended up pregnant. At that time in my life, I was devastated and felt like a failure.

I did turn back to God somewhat during that time.  I started praying again, however, I did not understand how someone like me could be a mother; for the first time in a long time, I felt like a child again myself – a very scared child. This is how I became a birth mother to my first child, Marcus, who I gave up for adoption when I was 17.

My life was completely different after that. It was colder and sadder than I care to even remember. I disconnected from my old life and friends as much as possible. My childhood home was sold during this time, and I moved to another city. I was depressed and I desperately kept praying and willing time to move forward as fast as possible so I could forget my pain.

I met my husband, Eddie, about one year later. He was different than any guy I had known, and I loved spending time with him.  Before I knew it, I was laughing again. It did not take me long to fall in love.

Eddie and I only dated a short time before we married. We were young, broke, and in love. Within one year of being married, we were pregnant with Gary. Being a mother changed me.  I was determined to be the mother I had thought I could not be and within eighteen months we had Anna, our daughter.  I loved my babies!

Eddie and I started attending a local Baptist church soon after the kids were born.  I made the decision to be baptized, and I started reading the Bible sometimes.  I was trying to make things as perfect for my little family as possible, yet I continued to struggle with past regrets and the sweet love I had for my children brought me constant pain for my missing child, Marcus. God met me where I was, He brought me comfort and peace that passed all understanding in those moments, and I had a lot of those moments. God even brought Marcus back into my life and our families’ lives for a reunion that possibly looked like a Hallmark movie from the outside.  I was still trying to grasp control of it all — fixing the past and trying to control my little family and now my Marcus, over whom I had no legal authority so that was just constant worry I struggled with.

As the years rolled by with raising kids and trying to control everyone I loved, Eddie and I had major struggles in our marriage and almost divorced.  I also lost my job I had for the last seven years and an income we relied on. It was a breaking point for me.fb_img_1475933294060

I started praying AND reading my Bible daily. I could not get enough of God’s Word.  I started in Matthew and I fell in love with Jesus somewhere in the book of John. He reminded me of who He was and what I meant to Him. He opened my eyes and I realized He brought me through times I almost destroyed myself, He gave me peace and took away my guilt and shame. He placed a passion in me to share Him and His forgiveness and love with others. He changed my marriage and restored it and He reminded me, that my children are His children and He loves them and watches over them. I also began sharing Jesus with others and our family started connecting and serving with a local Church.

One of my life verses:

John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace, in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.

I’ve had struggles in life again since this time, but now when I am attacked, I have His Truth hidden in my heart. We will overcome by the blood of Jesus and the words of our testimony. Patricia Coleman

Lord, thank you for putting people in my life that challenge me to think out of the box.  Patricia is one of those for sure.  Please continue to help her in her times of questioning and guide her every step.  Her desires are Your desires.  Amen!


Tianna Cummings:  I have known Tianna since she was a little girl.  And I’ve also gotten to experience serving along side of her.  She is passionate about what she believes the Lord is leading her to do and she loves deeply.  I’m proud to have been able to be a part of her growing up years and I’m excited to see what the Lord does with her future.  One thing for sure I know is that she will do it to the best of her ability and she isn’t afraid of following His lead.  Glad to be a 2nd mom to this wonderful child of God!

tiannaMy story with God, is a simple one – He saved my life. When I say that, I don’t mean God sending his one and only son to be crucified so that I might live. God sent me people that reminded me, not only who He is and why but that I matter and I have been given the gift of a life that needs living.

My parents got pregnant with me at a young age, they separated at a young age, which left me at a young age, without a father. Ironically, one of the few things I ever longed for in this world, was a strong, father/daughter relationship and that is still something I desire to have as a 23 year old young women. I truly believe that my God has a real serious sense of humor. He has always known my heart but our definitions haven’t always come from the same dictionary. God blessed me with a grandfather who has taken on some of the familial father roles; this is how God started placing people in my life.

I spent my formative years in North Carolina, while my father lived in Minnesota. When I was 11 years old, I told my mom, I wanted to move to Minnesota to live with my father, my step mom and my step brother, to help eliminate any of the excuses he fashioned for why we didn’t have a relationship. In the time I lived in Minnesota with them, I became very depressed and in fact suicidal. I think that I have always been a strong believer in the fact that God knows my heart and of course when you make those desires known, He will give them to you (within reason.) At 12, going on 13, the young girl in me, couldn’t understand why God hadn’t given my father the days off work to spend with me, or the courage to just tell me why he didn’t do for me but could do for his step son – those times and conversations never came. With that, I began traveling down the road of reason that if I couldn’t have the one desire of my heart – a true dad, then there would be no need to keep fighting for that or hurting over it not happening. But when I came back to North Carolina, I started almost therapy with my youth minister. Funny thing, looking back, that was God placing a man in my life to fill a void.

After returning back to North Carolina and starting high school, I began struggling with my mom. Growing up in a single parent household was given a new meaning when my life started. As I mentioned before, my parents got pregnant young, my parents and I are nineteen years apart. At no fault of my mom, I think it just got hard for her. At one point, we lived with my grandparents, I remember she moved out and I stayed with them to go to better schools and then she just stopped coming by the house, or I would only see her on the weekends and then back home with my (grand)parents. Definition wise, I come from a single mother household, but I grew up with two parents, they just didn’t directly birth me. That was a long way around, but starting high school, my mom and I began to have some issues of respect, and boundaries. Some would consider it normal, if these were issues with a parent you saw everyday, but that wasn’t us. This took me ever further down the path of suicide that I started a few years earlier – if the people that God gave me as parents don’t respect me or love me or want to do for me, then why should I make it harder for them?

I didn’t know it then, but God had always heard my prayers and knew my heart, but it wasn’t until that moment, he began to what appeared to be, as actively answering. He sent me women from my church, with boys, or adult children, or no children at all- women like Rhoda Gould, Ingrid Ruffin and Natasha Owens. These women all entered my life for different reasons and have stayed with me through many seasons.

Without these women and men, my story would have ended years too soon. My life is not perfect. I eventually had to accept that I would have to forgive my father and that my mom and I are better apart. I thank God for the role both my parents have played and still play in shaping the adult I am becoming. Now, my father believes he his entitled to a relationship with me and had this epiphany after my 21st birthday. I have now come to the realization that I had forgiven my father at 18, for the hurt caused up until that point, but now I need to forgive him for the hurt he’s brought back between then and now. And I am learning discernment in speaking to my mother as her adult child.

Some people think because I am outgoing and loud and comfortable in front of crowds, that it’s easy. I understand that there will always be someone my age or younger who has or is living something far worse than what I’ve experienced – it’s all relative, but that doesn’t mean that my monsters are any less terrifying to me or the same for the next person.

As my 21st birthday gift to myself, I got, “Matthew 6:25, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry for each day has enough troubles of its own.’

Love always and forever, Mommy.” I have learned my past took too much energy in worrying about a world without me in it. My God clearly states in that verse that I am more important than the animals and yet, even they don’t worry. Sharing that just leaves room for God to save another life, just like he saved mine!  Tianna Cummings

Lord, be with Tianna as she moves into the next phase of life following You.  Give her the people around her  that will encourage her and help keep her on the path to You.  Thank You Lord for allowing me to be part of her journey.  Remind us Lord that we are to seek out those we can serve.  Amen!